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The repairs, alterations, and additions made to the Castle by this nobleman were on the most splendid scale, and finished at an expenditure of sixty thousand pounds: an immense sum at that time.
The Stables, which formed so important an object in the establishment of every military baron, were in proportion to the number of his retinue and retainers. The lower story of the building, described as Leicester's Stables, is of solid stone mason-work. The lofts, or upper story, consist of brick and timber pane-work, each compartment having a diagonal piece of timber in it, carved in rude imitation of the “Ragged Staff," part of the armorial bearings of the family.
His principal works are thus enumerated :—“The first was the great Gate-house on the north side; for, after having filled up a part of the moat on that side, he made the principal entrance from the north, instead of the south, as it had been originally. He erected a large mass of square rooms at the north-east angle of the upper court, called Leicester's Buildings, and built from the ground two handsome towers at the head of the pool. The one called Flood-gate, or Gallery Tower, stood at the end of the tilt-yard, and contained a spacious and noble room, from which the ladies might conveniently see the exercises of tilting and other sports. The other was called Mortimer's Tower, either, as Dugdale thinks, after one that previously stood there, and in which this lord lodged at the round-table festival already mentioned, or because Sir John Mortimer was confined there when a prisoner in the reign of Henry the Sixth. By Leicester, also, the baronial chase, or park, was greatly enlarged. But although his works are of so recent a date, they present, nevertheless, the appearance of great antiquity, owing to the quality of the stone, which, being of a friable nature, is readily acted upon by the weather."
Leicester's Buildings, which comprise the lofty range from north-east to south-west, present, even in their present state of dilapidation, the skeleton of a majestic structure, and enable the stranger to form a fair estimate of the splendid accommodation provided for the queen and her court. To correct a popular error, it may be observed that “the great staircase flanked the centre apartment, and that the projecting erection at the south-west angle, usually called the staircase, was a suite of closets or dressing-rooms.” The
date of 1571 is cut in stone below the centre window of the east front. To give a general idea of the extent and splendour of this Castle at the time
of the queen's arrival, when it was in the meridian of its strength and beauty, we select the following particulars from the pen of the Great Magician:'—" The outer wall enclosed a space of seven acres, a part of which was occupied by extensive stables, and by a pleasure garden with its trim arbours and parterres, and the rest forming the large base-court, or outer yard, of this noble castle. The lordly structure itself, which rose near the centre of this spacious enclosure, was composed of a huge pile of magnificent castellated buildings, apparently of
different ages, surrounding an inner court; and bearing in the names attached to each portion of the magnificent mass, and in the armorial bearings which were there blazoned, the emblems of mighty chiefs who had long passed away, and whose history—could ambition have bent an ear to it-might have read a lesson to the haughty favourite who had acquired, and was now augmenting, this fair domain. A large and massive keep—[that already described as Cæsar's Tower]—which formed the citadel of the castle, was of uncertain though great antiquity: it bore the name of Cæsar, probably from its resemblance to that in the Tower of London so called. The external wall of this royal castle was, on the south and west sides, adorned and defended by a lake, partly artificial, across which Leicester had constructed a stately bridge, that Elizabeth might enter the castle by a path hitherto untrodden, instead of the usual entrance to the northward, over which he had erected a Gate-house or barbican, which still exists, and is equal in extent, and superior in architecture, to the baronial castle of many a northern chief. Beyond the lake lay an extensive chase, full of red deer, fallow deer, roes, and every species of game, and abounding with lofty trees, from amongst which the extended front and massive towers of the castle were seen to rise in majesty and beauty." Such was the royal Castle of Kenilworth, when, attended by thirty-one barons, the ladies of her court, and four
THE QUEEN AT KENILWORTH.
hundred inferior servants, Queen Elizabeth accepted the hospitality of Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester.
The progresses of the maiden Queen were eminently calculated to inspire lofty ideas of royalty. They were performed with a pomp and circumstance which dazzled the popular eye, drew around her the great and gifted of the land, excited the envy and admiration of foreigners, and, by the splendid hospitality with which she was entertained, insured a free and even profuse circulation of money wherever she halted.
Harrison, after enumerating the Queen's palaces, adds, “But what shall I need to take upon me to repeat all, and tell what houses the Queen's Majesty hath ? Sith all is hers; and when it pleaseth her in the summer season to recreate herself abroad, and view the estate of the country, and hear the complaints of her poor commons, injured by her unjust officers or their substitutes ; every nobleman's house is her palace, where she continueth during pleasure, and till she return again to some of her own, in which she remaineth so long as she pleaseth."* But in no palace was her Majesty entertained in such gorgeous state as in that of Kenilworth.
It was the twilight of a summer night-the 9th of July, 1575—the sun having for some time set, and all were in anxious expectation of the Queen's immediate approach. “The multitude had remained assembled for many hours, and their numbers were still rather on the increase. A profuse distri
Book ii. Chap. 15. Surely one may say of Lib. xiii. Ep. 52. If she relieved the people from such a guest, what Cicero says to Atticus on occasion oppressions (to whom it seems the law could give no of a visit paid him by Cæsar: “Hospes tamen non es relief), her visits were a great oppression on the cui diceres, Amabo te, eodem ad me cùm revertere." nobility.— See Hume. SOL. I.
bution of refreshments, together with roasted oxen, and barrels of ale set abroach in different places of the road, had kept the populace in perfect love and loyalty towards the Queen and her favourite, which might have somewhat abated had fasting been added to watching. They passed away the time, therefore, with the usual popular amusements of whooping, hallooing, shrieking, and playing rude tricks upon each other, forming the chorus of discordant sounds usual on such occasions. These prevailed all through the crowded roads and fields, and especially beyond the gate of the chase, where the greater number of the common sort were stationed; when all of a sudden, a single rocket was seen to shoot into the atmosphere, and, at the instant, far heard over flood and field, the great bell of the castle tolled.
“ Immediately there was a pause of dead silence, succeeded by a deep hum of expectation, the united voice of many thousands, none of whom spoke above their breath; or, to use a singular expression, the whisper of an immense multitude."
The annexed account is abridged from the “Somerz Progrest, 1575."
His honour, Robert Dudley, having made her Majesty great cheer at dinner on her halt at Long Ichington, and pleasant pastime in hunting by the way after, it was eight o'clock in the evening ere her Highness came to Killingworth; where, in the park, about a slight shoot from the Brays and first gate of the castle, one of the ten sibyls, comely clad in a pall of white silk, pronounced a proper poezie in English rhyme and metre, -of effect how great gladness her good presence brought into every stead where it pleased her to come; and specially now into that place that had so often longed after the same; and ended with prophecy certain, of much and long prosperity, health, and felicity. This her Majesty benignly accepting, passed forth unto the next gate of the Brays, which for the length, largeness, and use—as well it may so serve—they call now the Tilt-yard, where a porter, tall of person, big of limb, and stern of countenance, wrapt also all in silk, with a club and keys of quantity according, had a rough speech full of passions, in metre, aptly made to the purpose: whereby, as her Highness was come within his ward, he burst out in a great pang of impatience to see such uncouth trudging to and fro, such riding in and out, with such din and noise of talk within the charge of his office; whereof he never saw the like, nor had any warning afore, nor yet could make to himself any cause of the matter. At last, upon better view and advisement, as he pressed to come nearer, confessing anon that he found himself pierced at the presence of a personage, so evidently expressing an heroical sovereignty over all the whole estates, and by degrees there beside, calmed his astonishment, proclaimed open gates and free passage to all, yielded up his club, his keys, his office, and
THE QUEEN AT KENILWORTH.
all, and on his knees humbly prayed pardon of his ignorance and impatience: which her Highness graciously granting, he caused his trumpeters that stood upon the wall of the gate there, to sound up a tune of welcome. Which,
beside the noble noise, was so much the more pleasant to behold, because these trumpeters, being six in number, were every one an eight foot high, in due proportion of person beside, all in long garments of silk suitable, each with his silvery trumpet of five foot long, formed taper ways, and straight from the upper part unto the nether end, where the diameter was sixteen inches over, and yet so tempered by art, that being very easy to the blast, they cast forth no great noise, nor a more unpleasant sound for time and tune, than any other common trumpet, be it never so artificially formed. These harmonious blasters, from the foreside of the gate at her Highness's entrance where they began, walking upon the walls unto the inner, had this music maintained from them very delectably; while her Highness, all along this tilt-yard, rode under the inner gate, next the base-court of the castle: where the Lady of the Lake, famous in King Arthur's Book, with two nymphs waiting upon her arrayed all in silks, attended her Highness's coming. From the midst of the pool, where, upon a moveable island, bright blazing with torches, she, floating to land, met her Majesty with a wellpenned metre, and matter after this sort : viz. First of the antiquity of the castle, who had been owner of the same e'en till this day, most always in the hands of the Earls of Leicester; how she had kept this lake since King Arthur's days; and now, understanding of her Highness's coming hither, thought it both office and duty, in humble ways to discover her and her estate; offering up the same, her lake and power therein, with promise of